Getting to Know Swiss DH Racer Carina Cappellari

Jul 18, 2019
by Harrison Fetter  
Rick Schubert photo.

Carina Cappellari
Ever wondered if it were possible to work a full time job and race the UCI World Cup circuit? Carina Cappellari is doing just that. While working as the Head of Operations and Administration for a coffee company, she makes time for travel, training and riding with friends. Introduced to mountain biking through cross-country riding with her dad, we talk with Carina about what it's like to race at the top level while working full time.



Describe yourself.


I'm a 27-year-old downhill racer from Switzerland that loves to have a good time on any kind of bike. As I'm not a full-time pro, I would describe downhill racing as the hobby I wrap my life around.

Rick Schubert photo.


Where are you from and where do you live now?


I was born and raised in Walenstadt and now live in Chur which is a 20-minute drive from Lenzerheide.


Who do you ride for?


I ride for teamproject.ch, a full Swiss DH team and we are supported by: Devinci Bikes, RockShox, Sram, DT Swiss, Onza Tires, Deity Components, Hopetech, HT-Components, Flat Tire Defender, Ride 100%, iXS, Five Ten, Muc-Off, ClifBar, Rema Tip Top AG, Bomatec AG, Mizu Europe. Our coach is Arno Galmarini (Elite Training Switzerland) and I'm supported by the Tamina Therme, Buff Switzerland and the Alpen bike park Chur.

Rick Schubert photo.

What does a typical day look like for you?


It depends whether I’m working or not. I train 6 days per week so on the day without work I'll go to the gym in the morning and get on a bike in the afternoon. In between, I prepare food and relax. If I spend my day at the office I’m home around 5pm and then go to the gym or for a ride. In the winter I don’t really get to ride a lot so I run, XC ski or go bouldering.


How did you get into downhill racing?


I raced cross-country starting in 1998 at age 6 and after a good decade, I lost the motivation for it. In 2009, the Swiss Champs took place close to our house. I finished 2nd in juniors but the result didn’t really matter because since then DH racing was all I wanted to do.


Rick Schubert photo.


Rick Schubert photo.


What are your strengths?


The skills from riding cross-country in my younger years helps me with technical sections. This experience and having good mindset help me to bring a run down when it counts.


What are your weaknesses?


Time and jumps. Time in the case of being able to prepare myself for races or being able to recover from training sessions and races. Jumps are always the features on a race track I focus on most. I've had a few big crashes involving jumps so I approach them with respect. The feeling when I hit a jump and everything works out how it should is a great reward for me and I’m always super stoked about it.

Rick Schubert photo.

What’s been the worse crash you've had?


Back in 2012 at Fort William. It was my second ever World Cup final and I had a big crash midway down. The injuries were internal (pancreas, kidney, lung). It ended with a helicopter ride to a bigger hospital and after a few days, I was able to be transported by the Swiss air ambulance. They flew me to a hospital back in Switzerland where I spent 2 more weeks. Luckily I recovered from all the injuries and have no long term damage.


Do you have any big projects or trips planned for the rest of 2019?


As I'm working and use all my holiday to go to the World Cup races there is not much time left to go on big trips. Travelling to all the World Cups (even if some of them are close) are my “trips” and I absolutely love it!

Rick Schubert photo.

Rick Schubert photo.

Rick Schubert photo.


Rick Schubert photo.


Where’s your favorite place to ride?


At home. I have the Alpenbikepark in Chur plus a whole lot of other options right at my doorstep. It also makes a difference who I ride with. When I’m with cool group of bike people who love bikes the location becomes secondary.


How did you get into mountain biking?


When I was 6 years old my dad started to ride mountain bikes with his friends. Later he entered a couple of marathon XC races and our whole family went to support him. The day before the “big” race kids races took place and I started doing them. From there we always did the whole Swiss XC series. It was a very cool experience and a few former “competitors” are still racing XC at the World Cups.


What bikes are you riding right now?


I ride my Devinci Wilson 29er and my Devinci Spartan 29er. I also own a pumptrack bike, a hardtail and a road bike.

Rick Schubert photo.


Who or what inspires you?


With racing, I get inspired by the atmosphere and all the emotions of an event. I’m always fascinated by how many people love the sport and how mountain biking connects so many different people. I absolutely love racing!

What do you enjoy doing away from bikes?


I really enjoy meeting up with friends or going on camping trips with the van. I must admit that often I just like spending time at home, cooking, doing arts and crafts projects (even if it eventually ends with an unfinished project and a mess) or just watching a good TV series.


What do you do to rest and recover after a race?


Straight after a race we are busy packing up the pits and traveling home. Once home I do easy spins, go to the spa or have a massage.


What’s your favorite motto or saying?


Facts, facts, facts. I am very interested in a lot of different topics in sports and end up researching quite a lot about it. My friends make jokes about the facts I throw into a conversation.


What annoys you?


Dishonest people.


Rick Schubert photo.


What makes you happy?


Quite a lot. Having a good time on a bike with friends is high up the list.


What advice would you give to someone trying to get into racing?


Have good preparation. A race takes a lot of energy and you can make it easier if your body and mind are ready. It also helps to be around people that believe in you and support you. Never forget to have fun and enjoy yourself.

Rick Schubert photo.

How do you get focused before dropping into a race run?


In my eyes, the preparation for a race run is a huge mental thing. I use my time on the turbo to warm up, focus myself, and go through the track to get myself in the right mood. It’s important to me that I'm happy and excited to drop in.


Where do you think the future of downhill racing is headed?


I see it getting more and more professional. It starts with athletes, teams, event organization etc. at the venue and ends with the coverage and information people receive in their living rooms at home. I guess a part of this will depend on rules and regulations. The people in charge have different thoughts and ideas about it and as athletes, we need to be able to debate with relevant and important points. My prediction for World Cup racing is that it will get harder for non-professional athletes.

Rick Schubert photo.

How do you want to be remembered?


That’s a hard one. Since I'm annoyed by people that are dishonest it would be great if people would remember me as an honest person.


Anything else we should know about you?


While racing I completed a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. After I finished my studies in April 2018, I wanted to focus more on racing so I was able to keep my workload to 3 days per week. I am the Head of Operations and Administration for the coffee company Julius Meinl Schweiz. Our team is small and the flexibility allows me to attend races.

Rick Schubert photo.


MENTIONS: @cyclesdevinci / @SramMedia / @deityusa / @100percent




29 Comments

  • + 20
 Obtained riding skills from XC, can totally relate to that. 'twas a time, when XC was today's enduro just with less suspension and more spandex. Very challenging and rewarding to do alpine trails back then. Great stuff, Carina, keep it going!
  • + 13
 Remember when XC courses were technically challenging?

Remember when XC races were 2+ hours?

Remember when there wasn't a tach zone and riders had to fix their own mechanicals?

Pepperidge Farm remembers.
  • + 2
 ...tech zones.
  • + 5
 What I find most interesting/awesome is that she works full-time and yet is still able to compete at a pro level. I wish I could be that good. Until then I'll just settle for last place in the US Open
  • + 7
 A few different things at play here: 1) she lives someplace with lots of mountains 2) she lives someplaces where work-life balance is a cultural priority 3) she has an employer that offers flexibility 4) she lives someplace with relatively high wages.

If you lived in NYC or Tampa or Dallas, you might struggle to find that mix of qualities in your daily life that allow training for WCDH. This area of Switzerland is extremely mountainous, while still having a few small cities and towns for jobs. You can get a bus, tram, or gondola to the top of a mountain thats only maybe 15-20 mins from your work/home. If you're lucky, maybe you get in a few a runs after work - via public transportation. I'm not sure there is anyplace in the USA that provides those opportunities outside of resort towns.
  • + 2
 @PHeller: This is a terrible rationalization comment full of excuses. I am sure Carina has made sacrifices and worked extremely hard to be where she is at in her career. The U.S. is full of towns that offer riding right outside your doorstep (Sun Valley, Bozeman, Winter Park, Steamboat, Angel Fire, Mammoth.. just to name a few). If you want to compete at a pro level it's not about where you live or job you have, it's about your drive and the sacrifices you are willing to make. Plain and simple.
  • + 3
 Congratulations for the satisfactions that you have managed to take off and for the results obtained. Good person. It remains strange that Italian riders have German names and Swiss riders are Italian names .......... Congratulations also for the coffee which is very good.
  • + 3
 @pk72 Vero Widmann is from South Tyrol where 75% of the people are German as it belonged to Austria prior WWI
  • + 3
 @franxxy: Mine was a rhetorical consideration ............Wink
  • + 3
 "Ever wondered if it were possible to work a full time job and race the UCI World Cup circuit? "
Ask the rest of the field, as far as there was more of girls doing full time job and racing world cup
  • + 3
 I think she mentioned she works 3 days per week. so it's not a full time job. but anyway, she's riding extremely well compared to others that are pro
  • + 2
 Men and Woman who are racing at a World Cup level should not have to have an other job beside racing bikes. Can anyone imagine Tiger Woods doing something else 3 days a week ?
  • + 14
 Like nobody should have his mobile phone in his Jeans during a World Cup run in case work calls ;0)
  • - 3
 I've never heard of this girl. Anyone who thinks she's anywhere near as accomplished as a DH racer as Tiger Woods is at golf is a fool. Tiger's a clown of a human being but there's no doubt he's one of the top 2 golfers of all time. Second, DH racing generates about as much revenue as Olympic curling. Pro sports aren't charities. You have to earn your keep and DH racing can't be a source of significant income for any more than a couple dozen racers on the planet, at an absolute maximum.
  • + 1
 I like her and predict that she will rise to a place of importance in the administration of our sport ,I also predict that she will do a very good job of it ,she is a solid rider and a solid grounded person -more power to her and may she get to stand on the top of the podium on the way
  • + 3
 Supercool article and supercool woman who just shows you that anything is possible if you just want it bad enough! ????????
  • + 1
 Not gonna make a comment about wanting to be part of that pyramid, not gonna make a comment about wanting to be part of that pyramid, not gonna make a comment about wanting to be part of that pyramid.
  • + 3
 A down to earth rider with a rewarding busy life; keep enjoying it!
  • + 3
 Good read, more of these please...denim destroyer next maybe
  • + 2
 @Rusettipasta: That was fast....thanks
  • + 2
 Dedicated, disciplined. Very inspiring read. Thanks for these rider introductions!
  • + 3
 Don't have "What's your favorite non-bike website?" ?
  • + 1
 Pornhub
  • + 4
 Yeah Carina, keep it up!
  • + 2
 Definitely a good read. I agree, do more of these when possible.

Anyone know if there's one of these for Tahnee?
  • + 2
 And/or Bernard Kerr
  • + 1
 Thanks for being rad! Good luck on your bike and in your job!

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